Architectural Studies

Understanding and assessing the impact of human construction, or the built environment, is the burning global question of the twenty-first century. The program in Architectural Studies draws attention to this issue by investigating the history and practice of building around the world. Our college mission statement emphasizes the importance of concern for others and responsible citizenship as a key part of the liberal arts education. This concern is also key to Architectural Studies, which considers architecture as a transformative agent that shapes history, society, and culture. As a nonprofessional introduction to architecture, this program provides a way to explore many far-reaching questions: we spend the majority of our lives in buildings, and by better understanding these settings that frame our existence we gain a better understanding of different societies and also of ourselves. 

Students who pursue a major in Architectural Studies have many different career options. They may decide to pursue architecture as a professional degree, thus joining a growing group of Holy Cross alumni who are practicing architects, landscape designers, preservationists, and urban planners. But they may also go into diverse fields such as law, business, government, or social work, where knowledge of architectural and environmental issues, strengthened by a broad background in the liberal arts, may be a vital asset. From quality housing to successful schools and transportation networks, good architecture is the key to building a better world. 

The study of architecture extends across all the major areas of the liberal arts curriculum, from the arts and humanities to the social and natural sciences. Students interested in pursuing a professional career in one of the design fields (such as architecture, architectural history, landscape architecture, urban planning, historic preservation, etc) may choose to develop their particular thematic focus through a customized selection of courses. In the final year Architectural Studies majors will participate in the Concentration Seminar where they will complete a capstone project. This may be a research paper, a projected generated by an internship in a professional office, or any other creative consideration of the built environment. 

In addition to courses offered at Holy Cross, students may take courses at local colleges, architecture summer schools, or in study abroad programs. WPI offers a broad range of specialized courses for students interested in more technical aspects of design. Many of our students have attended the Career Discovery summer program offered at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, which serves as a gateway to professional architecture programs.


Architectural Studies Major/Minor Application


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